阿兰·德波顿: 《旅行的艺术》1-7

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TB英语咀嚼阿兰·德波顿的《旅行的艺术》(The Art of Travel) 英语用词。阿兰·德波顿(Alain de Botton)是一位出生于瑞士的英国哲学家和作家。他写的散文式的书被称为“日常生活哲学”。他的作品涉及爱情、旅行、建筑和文学,包括小说《爱情笔记》(1993)、《爱上浪漫》(1994)、《亲吻与诉说》(1995)及散文作品《拥抱逝水年华》(1997 )、《哲学的慰藉》(2000)、《旅行的艺术》(2002)、《写给无神论者》(2012)。他的书在30个国家畅销。

Departure : I Anticipation (Places: Hammersmith, London, Barbados ) 7
出发:第1章: 对旅行的期待 (伦敦,哈默史密斯,巴巴多斯) 第7节


A few days before our departure, M and I decided to explore the island. We rented a Mini Moke and headed north, to an area of rugged hills called Scotland, to which Oliver Cromwell had exiled English Catholics in the seventeenth century. At Barbados’s northernmost tip, we visited Animal Flower Cave, a series of caverns hollowed out of the rock-face by the pounding of the waves, in which giant sea anemones grew along the pitted walls and looked like yellow and green flowers when they opened their tendrils.

At midday, we headed south towards the parish of St John and there, on a tree-covered hill, found a restaurant in one wing of an old colonial mansion. In the garden were a cannonball tree and an African tulip tree, the latter bearing flowers in the shape of upside-down trumpets. A leaflet informed us that the house and gardens had been built by the administrator Sir Anthony Hutchison in 1745, and had cost the apparently enormous trade of 100,000 pounds of sugar. Ten tables were set out along a gallery, with a view of the gardens and the sea. We took our place at the far end, beside an efflorescent bougainvillea bush. M ordered jumbo shrimp in sweet pepper sauce, I had a kingfish with onions and herbs in red wine. We talked about the colonial system and the curious ineffectiveness of even the most powerful sunblocks. For dessert, we ordered two crèmes caramel.

When the crèmes arrived, M received a large, but messy portion which looked as if it had fallen over in the kitchen and I a tiny, but perfectly formed one. As soon as the waiter had stepped out of eyeshot, M reached over and swapped my plate for hers. ‘Don’t steal my dessert,’ I said, incensed. ‘I thought you wanted the bigger one,’ she replied, no less affronted. ‘You’re just trying to get the better one.’ ‘I’m not, I’m trying to be nice to you. Stop being suspicious.’ ‘I will if you give me back my portion.’

In only a few moments, we had plunged into a shameful interlude where beneath infantile rounds of bickering there stirred mutual terrors of incompatibility and infidelity.

M handed back my plate grimly, took a few spoons from hers and pushed the dessert to one side. We said nothing. We paid and drove back to the hotel, the sound of the engine disguising the intensity of our sulks. The room had been cleaned in our absence. The bed had fresh linen. There were flowers on the chest of drawers and new beach towels in the bathroom. I tore one from the pile and went to sit on the veranda, closing the French doors violently behind me. The coconut trees were throwing a gentle shade, the criss-cross patterns of their palms occasionally rearranging themselves in the afternoon breeze. But there was no pleasure for me in such beauty. I had enjoyed nothing aesthetic or material since the struggle over the crèmes caramel several hours before. It had become irrelevant that there were soft towels, flowers and attractive views. My mood refused to be lifted by any external prop; it even felt insulted by the perfection of the weather and the prospect of the beach-side barbecue scheduled for that evening.

Our misery that afternoon, in which the smell of tears mixed with the scents of suncream and air-conditioning, was a reminder of the rigid, unforgiving logic to which human moods appear to be subject, a logic that we ignore at our peril when we encounter a picture of a beautiful land and imagine that happiness must naturally accompany such magnificence. Our capacity to draw happiness from aesthetic objects or material goods in fact seems critically dependent on our first satisfying a more important range of emotional or psychological needs, among them the need for understanding, for love, expression and respect. We will not enjoy – we are not able to enjoy – sumptuous tropical gardens and attractive wooden beach huts when a relationship to which we are committed abruptly reveals itself to be suffused with incomprehension and resentment.

If we are surprised by the power of one sulk to destroy the beneficial effects of an entire hotel, it is because we misunderstand what holds up our moods. We are sad at home and blame the weather and the ugliness of the buildings, but on the tropical island we learn (after an argument in a raffia bungalow under an azure sky) that the state of the skies and the appearance of our dwellings can never on their own underwrite our joy nor condemn us to misery.

There is a contrast between the vast projects we set in motion, the construction of hotels and the dredging of bays, and the basic psychological knots that undermine them. How quickly the advantages of civilization are wiped out by a tantrum. The intractability of the mental knots points to the austere, wry wisdom of certain ancient philosophers who walked away from prosperity and sophistication and argued, from within a barrel or mud hut, that the key ingredients of happiness could not be material or aesthetic, but must always be stubbornly psychological – a lesson that never seemed truer than when M and I made up at nightfall, in the shadow of a beach-side barbecue whose luxury had become a humbling irrelevance.


Mini Moke:迷你越野车。最早1959年由BMC开始着手研究的轻型军用版汽车。大约90%的Mokes都出口到炎热国家,作为沙滩吉普车。
Oliver Cromwell:奥利弗·克伦威尔(1599年-1658年),出生于英国亨廷登郡,英吉利共和国首位护国主(1649年5月—1658年9月3日在任),英国政治家、军事家、宗教领袖。
sea anemones: /əˈnem.ə.ni/ 海葵(水中的食肉动物)This anemone is predatory and feeds on fishes, crustaceans, or other invertebrates that stray too close to its tentacles.
tendril: noun [ C ] /ˈten.drəl/ 类似(攀缘植物的)的卷须 a slender threadlike appendage of a climbing plant, often growing in a spiral form, that stretches out and twines around any suitable support;something resembling a plant tendril, especially a slender curl or ringlet of hair.
cannonball tree:炮弹树,A South American tree (Couroupita guianensis) bearing fragrant reddish pink flowers that develop into large woody fruits on its trunk and main branches.
efflorescent (adj), efflorescence (n), /ˌef.ləˈres.əns/: 开花;开花期, the period when flowers start to appear on a plant
Bougainvillea: /ˌbuː.ɡənˈvɪl.i.ə/ 叶子花
Crème Caramels: 焦糖烤布蕾,是一款非常受欢迎的法国甜点
out of Eyeshot: 视野之外
incense : verb [ T usually passive ] /ɪnˈsens/ to cause someone to be extremely angry 激怒,使大怒
affront: verb [ T usually passive ] /əˈfrʌnt/ to insult or offend someone 侮辱;冒犯
interlude: noun [ C ] /ˈɪn.t̬ɚ.luːd/ a short period when a situation or activity is different from what comes before and after it 插曲,间歇
infantile:adjective, /ˈɪn.fən.təl/ typical of a child and therefore unsuitable for an adult 幼稚的,孩子气的
sulks: n & v, 生闷气, 愠怒
tantrum: noun [ C ] /ˈtæn.trəm/ a sudden period of uncontrolled anger like a young child's 耍(孩子)脾气
mental knots: 心结 It is a metaphor for tying your brain up with a difficult problem.
intractability: the quality of being very difficult or impossible to control, manage, or solve 难以控制、管理或解决的性质




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